Based on 4 ratings
“We want customers to get the information they need to make smart buying choices, and we’d love to have your help doing that. As an Amazon customer, you can submit written or video reviews for items listed on Amazon. We encourage you to share your opinions, both favorable and unfavorable.” (Source: Amazon website)
- Owned by:
- Amazon.com (AMZN)
- Based in:
- Seattle, WA (USA)
- consumer products
Amazon is now a major online retailer in several countries and has to a large extent set the standard. One remarkable feature of the Amazon sites is the emphasis given to customer reviews of the products on sale, something it did from the very beginning. Allowing customer reviews regardless of how negative they were was considered a high-risk strategy by many industry watchers, but Amazon persevered with the idea.
At first, Amazon paid some reviewers, in order to get things started. Once that start was achieved, the paid reviewing stopped but meanwhile, other related features were being introduced. Registered Amazon users were invited to flag reviews as helpful or unhelpful, comments on the reviews were invited, and other, social networking, features were added. The latter include a reviewers’ forum, which at times can get very lively.
The comment threads on reviews can become very long, extending to many pages. Books relating to religious or political topics are especially likely to initiate ongoing disputes.
All of this, combined with the continual growth of Amazon as a retailer – now selling a vast range of merchandise, not just books – adds up to a unique and very significant online presence. Amazon is now a marketplace and discussion forum somewhat equivalent to a medieval town square, where people would gather to buy and sell, to gossip and learn the news, to meet old friends and make new ones.
The review system is certainly abused. Authors (and family and friends) will post glowing reviews under assumed names; academics will perform anonymous hatchet jobs on their rivals’ work, and so on. The ‘helpful/unhelpful’ flag on a review is usually used to record agreement or disagreement with the review rather than to truly record how helpful it was.
Although reviewers are not paid (which does not stop many of them spending an extraordinary amount of time on their reviews) there are some reviewers, known as Vine Voices, who are sent merchandise for free, in return for posting a review. Remarkably, this Vine scheme has become well established, despite the fact that Vine reviews are usually as honest – and as often negative – as any others. Sending free goods to reviewers who then trash them must be galling for the suppliers, but they presumably see the cost/benefit risks as being favorable.
Personally, I never buy anything now – from Amazon or elsewhere – without visiting Amazon first to read the reviews. The exception is a novel or a film — anything with a plot. Amazon reviewers (like many other online reviewers) are very prone to spoilers.
Last time I ordered some stationary from the Amazon marketplace, a wrong item got delivered to me. I asked for a return and refund three times but didn’t receive any reply back for 10 days.
I then decided to leave my feedback (1-star rating; not very glamorous) and within 2 hours or so I received my refund confirmation.
A bit later, the seller contacted me again, now trying to convince me to change my rating:
We noticed you left us negative feedback and we are very sorry that you were disappointed with our services. We really want to help you and ask you to give us another chance to show you that we really do care about how you feel and the way things went wrong with your order.
We would like to offer you £3 off on this order and also FREE DELIVERY on anything you want to buy from us to show you that we are sorry and whatever the reason things went wrong, we want to keep you happy. If you would be happy with this offer to rebuild the relationship between us, please contact us and we can provide a deal for you on anything we sell on www.amazon.co.uk
We sincerely hope you can reconsider removing your feedback for us.
If you accept our gesture of goodwill, please go ahead and remove the feedback, reply to this email saying you have done that and we will immediately make the refund to you hence you will be getting a bargain!
I hope that you can do us a favour in our effort to improve our services. Once again we are very sorry things went wrong but give us a chance to make it up to you as we really do care how you feel. We want to make you happy in any way we can help.”
Of course, I didn’t remove my feedback/1-star rating. Why would I?
In sum, I realised the power of my consumer rating. After all, feedback gets your money back.
The amazon review facility is really useful and it recently saved me a fortune in batteries. I was deciding on a portable digital radio and there was one that cost around £30 but for it to be portable, you had to pay £20 for a special battery. Other radios were about the same cost and ran on AA batteries. The review comments told me that these other radios went through batteries like they were going out of fashion whereas the life of the £20 battery was really long. I have had the radio for a month now and use it every day. I’ve only had to charge the battery twice so far. I calculate that in the same time I would have had to recharge AA batteries twice a week.
I judge review comments on the number of times people say the same thing. Overly exuberant/negative comments make me suspicious – I base my judgment on majority opinion.
Please could you amend the link to this comment by including a seperate one for Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk they are very different.
The previous comment seems to be about Amazon.com
I use this site for the best comparisons, I get to know reviewers and once I find one who likes the same as me I buy on his/her recommendations.
If there is no one that I am familiar with I tend to trust the top 50 reviewers.
This is one of the few sites where the site does not edit reviews, they may refuse to publish on the grounds of bad language etc but you can trust most of the reviews to be genuine.
There is one exception that is when an author and hes friends try and talk up their own book, this is easily identified as the reviewers always give 5 * and have only ever had one or two reviews published. It would be better however if Amazon could remove these reviews.